Sumatra Indonesia Riau is one of the provinces of the huge island of Sumatra, very different from Bali. Hotels here are not as numerous and luxurious but there are many cultures to observe, history to track and natural habitats to conserve.
About halfway back from Duri to Pekanbaru we turned off the regular highway and ended up on dirt roads that were getting built into wide asphalted roads. Left and right we passed plenty of plantations and here and there a hamlet or small town.
People in trucks and on bicycles went about their business, kids came back from school and markets were busy. It was a trip for about two hours and felt much longer because of the street and the environment.
Finally, we rejoined a busy main street, the one from Pekanbaru to Siak Indra Pura, the one we were taking the next day to go back to Pekanbaru. Here there were centers with bigger populations and more activities.
And there it was way in the distance at the end of the long straight road. the huge Tengku Agung Sultana Latifah bridge; one of the grandest bridges in Indonesia. It curves up, then down so that big ships can pass on the river below. The Siak River is still very important for transportation. We could have taken a speedboat from Pekanbaru to come here in about 3 hours.
We planned to stay overnight. There is a new hotel in town; sadly it was closed on Idul Fitri when we visited; so we stayed in the second best accommodation. It is a typical provincial hotel with strong colors on the walls strong smell of cleaning agents and it offers the basics. The rooms were clean, the wooden beds with spotless sheets are not luxurious but practical there is an air conditioner and a bathroom with hot water. We even got a simple breakfast, a buffet-style hot meal served in the lounge separating rooms.
The city itself is grand with wide, trash free avenues and government buildings. We stopped over at the beautiful main Mosque at sunset and wondered at the lighting and the moon hovering over it.
The must-see is China Town at the riverside, next to the port to board the speedboats. A beautifully decorated Kelenteng or Chinese Temple forms the main interest point and is proof of the history of this town. We wandered down the main street with its many colorful shops and coffee or tea houses. Fithri spotted huge crayfish in the window of a Padang Restaurant and of course, that was our lunch.
The palace is well known and a showcase for Sumatra’s wealth and influence in the Indonesian history. A must visit.
Let's move away from Sumatra Indonesia Riau and talk about the island of the gods. Bali is a true tourist destination with plenty of hubs catering to different kinds of guests. Kuta is the center for surfers, young people, and parties. Sanur is more established and offers quiet family holidays in stunning properties along the long sandy beach. Nusa Dua is a tropical garden with plenty of modern and secluded hotels along the southern beach. Ubud is the arts village today a town in the cooler mountains.
There are plenty of much smaller hotels clustered along the northern, eastern and western coast and in mountainous rural areas.
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